Fribourg has one of the best maintained Old Towns in Switzerland — or so I've read. And I would not disagree, for on Tuesday 3 January I walked through Fribourg's charming and historic old quarter, and found it beautifully preserved. It had a distinctly Catholic and medieval feel. I wandered through small, atmospheric squares with fountains. I climbed steep streets which led up to the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas with its Gothic bell tower. I chanced upon all kinds of architectural nooks and crannies, and picked out tiny effigies of saints in walls and alcoves. Then, after admiring the fine sixteenth-century Town Hall, I crossed the ancient Pont de Berne, a roofed, wooden bridge spanning the river Sarine.
Soon the river entered a deep gorge. I passed a trout farm and followed the river for several kilometres. The Sarine had eroded a twisting course through the soft molasse — a friable mixture of sandstone, shale, conglomerate and marine deposits. Over the millennia the river had smoothed this rock into sinuous shapes, scooping out depressions and carving pinnacles, and undercutting it to form exciting overhangs. My circular route then doubled back to Fribourg along field paths which tracked the topmost edge of the ravine. The weather was hardly cold, considering the time of year, and long, low scarves of cloud indicated that a mild Föhn wind was about to blow. A spectacular sunset lit up the city as I climbed back down.
Fribourg (Freiburg in German) was famous for its weavers, tanners and dyers in medieval times. It's now a popular university town, with a population of 40,000. Lying on the border of French and German speaking Switzerland, it is, as such, bilingual. It's an arty place, an academic place and a gastronomic place. I ate in two restaurants there — one Lebanese, one Italian — and both were very good.
(All images from Wikimedia Commons)